The criminal cartels in Mexico that control the illicit drug trade are violent groups that resemble terrorist organizations. They are extremely well-armed and occupy geographic areas, violently protecting their domains as they guard and promote their part of this lucrative business.
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz suggested that the U.S. military should be used against Mexican transnational criminal groups (cartels). The statements were made during a one-on-one interview with the senator at the end of May at the Bayer Museum of Agriculture in Lubbock, Texas. The senator made clear that he was not suggesting unilateral U.S. military action in Mexico, but rather a cooperative effort, as seen in Colombia.
Mr. Cruz recently gave an interview on the subject, explaining his rationale for proposing such actions. After discussing the close relationship those in Texas often have with Mexicans, Cruz got more specific:
In the past decade, we have seen the control and reign of terror of the cartels wreak enormous damage to the nation of Mexico. Where ordinary citizens are terrified for their lives. Where crime and kidnapping becomes almost routine and the corruption that goes hand and hand with billions of dollars of illegal narcotic trafficking resources combined with vicious violent transnational criminal cartels has done enormous damage to Mexico and enormous damage to America.
What can we do about it? One of the things I think we should explore very seriously is something along the lines of what we did in Colombia: Plan Colombia. Where President George W. Bush worked with President Uribe to target the cartels and take them out. It was treated less as a law enforcement matter than as a military matter. Where our military went into Colombia and helped destroy the cartels.
It did so on the invitation of the Colombian government. Look, we should not engage in a military action in Mexico without the active cooperation of the duly elected government there.
If we could work with the Mexican government to wipe out these cartels this would certainly lighten the job of our border security personnel. Yet the problem remains in that the Mexican drug cartels have enormous influence in Mexican politics and government, meaning that going after these criminal organizations is to attack the flow of funds to political leaders who are financed by the very cartels we would be targeting.
CRUZ: It’s an enormous challenge and rule of law in Mexico is profoundly imperiled. Where the justice system doesn’t operate. Where far too many of the police and the prosecutors and the judges are corrupt. Where cartel enforcers, even if they are apprehended, are released within hours. It creates an environment that makes it profoundly difficult for government leaders to take on the corruption. We need American leadership to try to work to find Mexican government officials willing to do so and we need to use the tools we have in our country to secure the borders and shut down the trafficking. Shut down the narcotics trafficking, the human trafficking. And do everything we can to protect the American citizenry from the enormous damage being inflicted by the cartels.
Mr. Cruz clearly understands the difficulty of attacking this problem. Drug money has purchased plenty of politicians, as well as all the “help” needed to keep other government leaders from causing too much trouble. To become a crusader in Mexico against the cartels is to mark yourself out for assassination. And the drug gangs have no problem ending the lives of those who would interfere with their enormously profitable trade.
So while Mr. Cruz’s desire to see Mexico free of the drug cartels is laudable and would be a benefit to the US as well, the problem is that the power of these gangs is so great that any Mexican politician signing on to Mr. Cruz’s plan has marked himself out for death.
Hence, this task would involve more than deploying some US military personnel to Mexico to shoot cartel members. It would require providing security for political leaders so there would remain a government to lead Mexico after the war with the cartels is won.